Uber has added a feature to its driver-focused app that shows where the nearest and cheapest gas stations are in relation to the vehicle. Called Fuel Finder, it’s rolling out to all active drivers in the U.S. and should be available to everyone by this week.
In addition, the on-demand private car service has also begun implementing a faster way for drivers to cash out their earnings, using a GoBank debit card. The process has been streamlined so that instead of emailing a request for the card, drivers can do so right from within their app.
These latest features are an effort to address pain points that drivers encounter while they’re out on the road. Between transporting passengers to and from destinations, they’re going to need to fuel up every now and then. But instead of circling around endlessly looking for the cheapest gas station, they can now simply look at the map on the driver/partner app.
Using data from third-party services and data showing where its Partner Fuel Card has been used, Uber has mapped out gas stations throughout the U.S. The system updates the gas prices at each location every hour, although it’s likely prices will fluctuate once a day. Tapping on a station icon will display the name, price per gallon, and distance from the driver. When a station is selected, Uber’s app can provide turn-by-turn directions using either Apple or Google Maps.
Driver benefits Uber has added previously include savings at Exxon Mobile gas stations, resources to find health insurance (the company still doesn’t provide its drivers with that benefit), ways to rapidly claim earnings, discounts on phone plans, and car maintenance. Uber is even testing out its Advance Pay program that allows some drivers to borrow up to $1,000.
As the battle between Uber and Lyft continues, one of the major contests is in attracting and retaining drivers. Lyft hasn’t shied away from the fight, offering its drivers discounts at Shell gas stations, rental car savings at Hertz — to make it easier for anyone to be a partner — and an Instant Deposit service powered by Stripe.
On the surface, Uber is providing helpful features for drivers to keep them happy, and the company has frequently touted the flexible income drivers can receive. But the release of these features is perhaps also designed to placate those who seek to be treated as full-time employees rather than independent contractors. Last week, Uber and a group of drivers agreed on a $100 million proposed settlement, which, in effect, ensured that drivers remained classified as independent contractors.
Uber’s Fuel Finder feature is available within the driver app, which received an update in October. That effort streamlined the process by which drivers could find information on the platform, including their ratings, reviews, and earnings, as well as what’s happening in the city, such as surge pricing and activity. Drivers need only open the app to instantly see the closest and cheapest gas stations right on the home screen.
Fuel Finder is available to all drivers in the U.S., but there are plans to expand the service to Canada soon.